Monday night in Granite City the Illinois Board of Education held its final public hearing on the state’s education budget.
Among those speaking at the meeting was Granite City Police Chief, Rich Miller, who stopped by to make a case for early childhood education.
“So, that then they move forward toward a normal life that most of us would like to see our kids lead, not crime and jail and violence,” Miller said.
Chelsea Marti came out to advocate for funding agriculture education.
“Helping students understand where the resources that they use every day come from,” Marti said. “Those are resources that are grown on farms and brought to them.”
After collecting public comments from around the state, Board Member and Chair of the Finance Committee, Jim Baumann, said that he’s heard plenty of frustration over recent funding cuts.
But he adds that no one’s been really bitter, or angry.
“That’s optimistic,” Baumann said. “If we can just get our act together financially, and that’s not their problem, that’s our problem.”
Funding for early childhood education has taken a big hit during the state’s lingering budget crunch, with about $80 million being cut since 2009.
Baumann said he’s heard plenty of feedback aimed at reversing the trend.
“It can help level the playing field, relative to our kids and our schools, and it impacts their entire education career,” Baumann said. “As opposed to us trying to catch up to kids down the road when they haven’t had that foundation. So, it’s really, really important, and it works.”
The Board will send its budget recommendation to Gov. Pat Quinn in January. After that it goes to the legislature.